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|::|| Best Picante Punk-Pop |
GO BETTY GO
It’s a typical Monday night at Spaceland, the uber-hip rock club in Los Angeles’ uber-hip Silverlake neighborhood. Well-coiffed twentysomethings in trucker hats knock back beers and chat with their friends while some local band that didn’t get the “shoegazer is dead” memo drones on in the background. For once the bored looks at the bar aren’t feigned. Then four young women take the stage, all looking like they could’ve been bar backs here a week ago—hip but casual, jeans and thrift-store T-shirts. Suddenly, even the coolest indie kids put down their beers and pivot on their barstools. Most of them have probably seen Go Betty Go before, but this is one of those rare homegrown bands that’s always worth watching. And not just because they’re all cute and under 25.
There’s nothing about Go Betty Go’s sound that’s particularly original—their bright, catchy punk-pop anthems are in a line that can be traced back through bands like Weezer and the Lemonheads right back those godfathers of three-chord crunch, the Ramones. But they nail it with a vivacity and polish that’s a joy to hear in these dark days of scruffy garage rock. Lead singer Nicolette Vilar comes on with an appealing blend of Kim Deal cool and Chrissie Hynde sass, while her sister Aixa keeps it locked down on drums and Michelle Rangel’s nimble bass dukes it out with Betty Cisneros’ remarkably fluid guitar leads, which channel everyone from Rick Nielsen to Joey Santiago. And did I mention the vocal harmonies? Rocking out never sounded so sweet.
While Cisneros’ guitar chops and Nicolette’s sex appeal are the band’s obvious hooks, their secret weapon may be their Latin roots. Both Cisneros and the Vilar sisters grew up in bilingual Spanish-English households around, and they’ve already proven their crossover appeal by singing lyrics in both languages at shows everywhere from Sunset Strip punk clubs to Mexican pool halls. L.A.‘s well-established “roc en Español” scene has taken notice—Go Betty Go’s first full-length album, due out later this year, is being produced by Wil Dog from Ozomatli.
But while that record is sure to garner the band more national attention, don’t expect Go Betty Go to bust out of their Glendale garage studio any time soon. “We’re so young at this point”, says Aixa. “There’s no rush for us. We don’t want to be molded into something else”. In other words, no, Go Betty Go is not the next Donnas, nor do they want to be. In an era when even punk is increasingly pre-packaged, this is one band that’s content to do it their way, even it means a longer, harder road to the spotlight. How refreshing is that?